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Reading 1-0 Preston North End

Preston must be getting sick of seeing Reading. Four consecutive losses in a row - all by a single goal. Last season Preston turned up at the Mad Stad on a run of 12 game unbeaten run before being turned over by Mo Barrow and Yakou Meite. Seven months later and Preston hadn't lost in eight matches, but they hadn't reckoned with Mark Bowen and Matt Miazga.

To address the elephant in the room first up. I'll be honest, I don't understand the reasoning behind Mark Bowen's appointment. I understand why José Gomes was fired - although I don't agree with it - but to then bring in someone who's never managed before seems like an unncessary risk, and one that negates much of the reason for firing your manager in the first place.

With that said I thought that the way we played was sensible. He didn't try to completely overhaul the system - sticking with the same formation and personnel where available. Rather than having one holding midfielder with Ejaria and Swi…

Reading 1-2 Blackburn

After a decent start to the season (first two weeks aside) Reading now find themselves in an all too familiar position, after three successive defeats. The positive being that we are, at least, creating chances. Yet again, the issues were at the other end of the pitch.

The first goal is a phenomenal strike - no doubt about it. The thing that worries all Reading fans is how much time Armstrong had to pick his spot. Obita being caught upfield is par for the course in the way that Gomes wants us to play, but it meant McIntyre needed to come across to cover. Pelé then doubles up on the winger - but neither of them block the cut back. When playing three centre backs it feels like it should be unnecessary for Yiadom to be in the six yard box defending a cross - and that meant that nobody even noticed Armstrong at the back post. Yiadom and Swift are both at fault for not closing him down quicker when he does pick up the ball but Rafael had no chance.

Times change, but Reading conceding soft …

Wycombe 1-1p Reading

Reading eventually overcame a decent Wycombe side after penalties in the The Morrisons Car Park Cup. Only six places separate the teams in the league, and the home side will be disappointed that they didn't manage to hold onto their lead after being the better team for large parts of the game.

Gomes decided to experiment with a sparkling-new 5-3-2 formation given there wasn't three points up for grabs. McIntyre, Morrison and Moore deployed at the back. Richards and Rinomhota both sat fairly deep in defence, letting Wycombe stretch the play when they had possession of the football, but then pushed right up to support attacks. Pelé sat deepest of the midfield three, Adam and Ejaria in front of him - the latter with a particularly free role. Puscas played as 9, with Boyé buzzing around in the 10 role.

Shooting toward a raucous away end in the first half, you'd hope that could buoy the side on, and they definitely had their chances. Boyé missed a sitter from eight yards when h…

Summer Transfer Window 2019

Reading's transfer windows are often nothing special, and on some occasions they're nothing at all. With this window meandering towards the same fate, alongside concerns over Financial Fair Play and 'soft' transfer embargoes, the club somehow went absolutely mad in the last three days to give fans real hope of achieving something this season.

So with that said, here's the 25th round up of the summer's business that you've read.

Ins
Joao Virginia
If there's one position Reading have a seemingly endless amount of depth in, it would be young goalkeepers. So it is a touch surprising that we've loaned in a 19-year-old from Everton to keep instead. That said, in the opening game this season he looked assured with possession, and his distribution was decent. Hopefully when the team improves he'll be given more options, and won't end up having to play a risky pass half the time. As of yet his shot stopping is yet to be really tested, but either way …

Reading 1-3 Sheffield Wednesday

I have spent the last few weeks telling anybody that would listen to how Reading are a changed side. Safe from relegation, and only put there in pre-season predictions by people who haven't actually watched the team since our José Gomes inspired uptick at the backend of last season. Yes, maybe some of the key personnel went back to their respective parent clubs, but we still have all 6ft 4in of Matt Miazga, and promising upstart Joao Virginia - the first step in our transition into a fully Portuguese squad a la Wolves.

With all that said Saturday provided a bit of a reality check. Going into the game I said it would provide a good opportunity to see how far the squad has come since the beginning of last season. Last time The Owls visited Berkshire they made light work of Paul Clement's men, a Reading side that has been almost totally decimated since. Mannone, Gunter, Ilori, Aluko, Meyler, Bacuna, and Baldock all started that day, with none of the three substitutes at the …

Norwich City 2-2 Reading

Given the weekend's capitulation against Hull a midweek trip to the top of the league could be seen as another potential stumbling block on Reading's road to safety. As it happened, it was another sign of the progress being made under The Best Manager in World Football, José Gomes. As an early aside, the man's never even made it to two years in the main role so I'm going to be gutted when he inevitably leaves.

Even pre-match it was fairly obvious that The Royals weren't going to throw the kitchen sink in search of three points. A back five, complete with Chris Gunter, were protected by three in midfield - Baker, Rinomhota, and Ejaria. Méité and Barrow continue their partnership given that Oliveira was, as Football Manager would say, ineligible.

Midway through the first period, and definitely against the run of play, Barrow raced onto a loose pass. Under Clement not a lot would have come of the situation, but Gomes' Barrow knocked the ball past the defender, and…

Reading 2-1 Preston

Preston came into the away game at the Madejski on a well-reported run of six straight away wins. Less reported was that none of their opponents - QPR, Stoke, Bolton, Millwall, Blackburn, and Middlesbrough - were in particularly good form; nor that their last league defeat was actually to 22nd place Rotherham on New Year's Day. It was, nevertheless, a little surprising that they were so poor.

Rinomhota's return to the team added some much needed stability in midfield, Ejaria recovered from his groin strain, and there was a further boost to see Nélson Oliveira's name, inexplicably, on the bench. Barrow started up front, with Méité reprising his now familiar role out wide.

In the first half Reading were outstanding. Every time they won the ball back they looked for a pass in behind. Barrow has played up front a few times since Gomes came in and it seems like we've finally learnt how to play the system. He had the beating of the defence on every occasion, and was key to b…

Reading 0-3 Leeds

After weeks of every game being the biggest of the season so far it was almost relaxing to go into a match we never had a chance of winning. Leeds were comfortable victors, without really breaking a sweat.

What was a little annoying is that all the goals in the first half were so avoidable. Mo Barrow tracks Luke Ayling's run well before slipping, allowing the Leeds player to easily pull the ball back to the penalty spot for an simple finish. Goal two sees Pablo Hernandez surrounded by at least four Reading players, but still somehow in a few yards of space. His quick turn and shot hits the woodwork, before dribbling along the line and in. A good finish but he shouldn't have been allowed the time. Similarly for the final goal of the game Blackett stands off Hernandez - who had already shown his talent - before a little shift to the right allows the Leeds' player the angle he needs to pick out the far corner.

Strangely I didn't think Reading played badly in the first hal…

Reading 3-2 Wigan

Reading showed three moments of quality to overcome a combative Wigan side.

Wigan's first goal comes down to a lack of midfield presence. Ejaria gets pushed off the ball, Yiadom dives in, and all of a sudden Wigan overload the box. Powell's finish trickles in, but was perfectly placed inside the corner. I did think there was a foul on Blackett with no real advantage, his foot seemed to get trodden on. That being said he didn't really break a sweat getting back, which is also an issue for Wigan Goal #2. If we're being super critical Moore probably gets himself a little too deep - actually ending up right in front of Martinez - and Baker should probably be tracking Powell's run. At the end of the day, we were in a bad position from the moment we lost the ball.

The first piece of real (Royal?) quality came with John Swift standing over the ball in first half stoppage time. In the programme versus Rotherham there was a fairly lengthy piece that touched on his dead ball…

Ipswich 1-2 Reading

Finally. Three away points.

If we're being deadly honest, we didn't deserve anything from the match. After their equaliser it was the first time I've ever really felt completely let down by a side. On paper they have an absolute abundance of talent. There's a handful that have been on the books at the biggest sides in their respective countries but they seem so brittle. It was only the sheer relief, and importance, of the result that stopped the EPR 3 just being 'papers over cracks' again and again.

Things started well enough - McCleary and Oliveira will get the credit for the opening goal but it was almost entirely made by Blackett. A beautiful ball just beyond the full back allowed McCleary to race onto it, draw three men to him, and pull it across for Oliveira. Yet again our loanee forward found the net. His celebration was, presumably, a reaction to some pretty tasteless Ipswich chants, but had I already been on a yellow card I may have been slightly less o…

Reading 1-1 Rotherham United

Surprise, surprise another draw against a fellow relegation rival. On the whole disappointment reigns after another promising start only to tail off in the second half.

Rotherham were pretty content to sit back in the first half - which let Reading play their football. Culminating in a goal that is pretty much the definition of Gomes football. The majority of the team touched the ball in a flowing, counter-attacking move from back to front which Ejaria finished into the top right corner.

That meant that in the second the away side needed to show more impetus, and they took control of the match. Reading dropped deeper and deeper until the inevitable happened. While Rotherham may have earnt their title as route one specialists, their goal was well worked. A beautiful ball in the from the centre-right nodded down to Ajayi who finished from within the six yard box under Martinez.

Both sides had chances to win it - in fact Reading had numerous. Oliveira missed from two yards following a re…

Reading 0-0 Aston Villa

While the game itself may not have been the talking point of Saturday's fixture, Reading battled to a good point against a disappointing Villa side.  On paper the visitors have a side to trouble the automatic places, from Croatia's first-choice goalkeeper Kalinić, to perennial Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham but their gameplan of pinging it up to the big man never really looked like paying off.

Admittedly they had chances - El Ghazi forced a decent save by Martinez, but Tammy Abraham nodded the follow up wide from 6 yards. He was racing to get there ahead of Blackett and Miazga but probably should have done better. Equally our new GK probably should have tried to tip it further wide but in the end no damage done. On another occasion the crossbar helped save him when Elphick beat him to the ball from a corner.

That said he more than redeemed himself when Abraham met a beautiful El Ghazi cross. You could argue he got slightly too much on it, which directed it closer to Martinez'…

January Outgoings

With Reading languishing in 23rd you'd expect January to be a busy period to try to improve the squad, particularly with what José Gomes has been saying. However, I may be misguided, but I do think the quality in the team currently outweighs anybody who could be available unless the owners are prepared to plough cash in. As highlighted by the manager the outgoings will be almost as important as the other way.

I know The Tilehurst End somewhat stole my thunder here, but I'm going to lay out who I would keep from the first team squad. Some are to be reassessed during summer - players that could be useful if they step up their game and adapt to Gomes' style of football.

Goalkeepers
Vito Mannone
Sunderland fans may have been disappointed at him leaving given their luck in goal last season, but considering he was brought in as a replacement for Ali Al-Habsi he's not performed to the level needed. How different could the table look if he'd managed to keep out Mason Mount&…

Reading 1-4 Swansea

Reading finished 2018 surprisingly well with a spirited defeat away at Millwall followed up with a good point at QPR, so it was only right that they kickstart 2019 with an abysmal loss at home to Swansea on New Year's Day for a third successive defeat at the Madejski.

Omar Richards, briefly heralded as one of the next great prospects from the academy, was found wanting on a number occasions and really could be seen to be at fault for all of the first half goals. For the first he never closed down the cross, which gave Naughton all the time in the world to pick out McBurnie. On the second he's not strong enough to really pressure Leroy Fer, and gives him a free header across goal. And he lets van der Hoorn ghost in at the back post to finish from a free kick.

In my mind Richards is not the left back in a back four, he has far too many defensive frailties. I could see him fitting in at wing back on a back five, but he also needs to trust himself more going forward. The first tim…